There are many times in life where a new ‘hype’ or ‘trend’ comes to town and consumers crave it in order to ‘belong’ to society or because peers say it’s… ‘lit’. Speaking from personal experience as a Teaching Assistant, I’ve already had enough of confiscating the new fidget spinner, questionably made for children but slowly getting popular with adults. Turn to the food world, and restaurants like Bao, Barrafina and Hoppers come to mind – because the queues are blogworthy. But one restaurant that has definitely whipped up a storm in the last few months on the streets of Chinatown and the realms of Instagram is the recent hit Bubblewrap. I am still figuring out as I write this whether it reached its fame due to its eye catching creations or its ridiculously long queue.
The bigger question though is – was Bubblewrap worth the wait? Taiwanese buns aren’t commonplace and Barafina is a Michelin star tapas restaurant. But what about Bubblewrap? Across the street is literally another bakery selling almost exactly the same thing, and less than half the queue size! – What makes this place so special? Let me give you the rundown of some facts plus my experience and let you decide!
Starting as a project during owner Tony Fang’s studies at the Imperial Business School, Bubblewrap opened its doors in Chinatown on the 8th March 2017 to sell its Instagrammable waffle wraps to the public. These Cantonese sensations are not exactly popular in London, but the trend-setter points to the fact that these wraps are traditionally served plain. So when packed with gelato and meticulously smothered with fruits, chocolates and sauces, you can see why it’s become a pudding bonanza.
However, when waiting in a queue for 90 minutes – yes 90 minutes! (To be fair it was a Saturday) You can see why this wasn’t going to be a straightforward visit… especially after watching a slightly disappointing film of equal time length. In addition to simply waiting in the queue, you must endure the blatant stares of wonder and disapproval from passers-by and answer questions from curious bystanders querying your sanity.
Take a look at the picture below to get a visual of my bane.
Once inside, do not expect seating. Instead, expect more queuing, a dotted menu of flavours, and a large do and don’t guide explaining how to eat the bubblewrap for a little giggle. From the entrance, time till wrap received is 30 minutes, and only halfway do you reach the cashier who takes (with a smile) your £6-8 after bursting your brain figuring out your dessert – after over an hour of queuing you definitely want to get your order right. Then a bit of magic happens, you watch the bubblewrap being made before your very eyes, an interesting experience seeing their gooey waffle batters toasted in their special pressing machines; the mess, the toppings and the labour all toiling together to make an edible work of art. Watch the video on their website for a quick walkthrough: http://bubblewraplondon.com/
And voila! The reward you receive for your patience. But how did it taste Xtian?
Well foodventurers let me explain (*cracks knuckles*), the cone shaped egg waffle was cooked to perfection with its crispy shell and pillowy centre, melting in your mouth sending signals of well-balanced flavours and sweetness to your tonsils. The ice cream was creamy quality, maybe a bit too sweet but my fault for getting the Strawberry Cheesecake – #noregrets. Top that with chunks of white chocolate, kit kat, oreo and a squirt of condensed milk and you get dia… bolically good dessert!
It was a great munch that I think Asia and the US would be proud of, and as you walk down the street with coned trophy in hand you do get a lot of looks – good tip if you’re looking for attention. But did I think it was worth a 90 minute wait?
Nope. Because the problem with long queues is that your expectations can’t help but skyrocket, and Bubblewrap didn’t really hit the target for me. It also depends on what toppings/flavours you get, there were many that I didn’t try that probably would have changed my opinion such as the optional maatcha and chocolate waffle flavours – but I doubt it.
If you have ever been to Bubblewrap and/or want to share your thoughts or queue experiences – please submit a comment below!